There are many arcades in Tokyo. Mostly new game centers, stuffed with UFO catchers, gambling games and if you’re lucky, a couple of true machines dedicated to gaming itself. All these places looked kinda the same to me and were pretty anonymous.
They lacked in charm and tried to make up for it with even more photo booths which are daringly called “purikura”. But there are also a couple of great retro arcades out there where you can play the old stuff, the games that get my heart pumping and are still a challenge. You have to memorize every part of these games or otherwise, you won’t ever beat them.
It’s still a big mystery why classic arcade video games are only allowed for grown-ups in Germany. Thus arcades don’t exist here because there is, simply put, no demand for these. In other European cities this is different and kids are allowed to play in some special locations with arcade videogames but the truth is told: Nothing, really nothing compares to the true experience to being in a real Japanese arcade.
Going out with a couple of friends and after some beers, drinks, and sushi, to hit the arcades, later on, is just awesome.
Kaikan Monaco in Shibuya was one of these places. My buddy Jacob was kind enough to introduce me to it when we were having some drinks in the neighborhood. It was a great place with retro machines on several floors. I was playing Mario Bros in the basement and Street Fighter on the 3rd floor. In between, you could find some discarded rhythm games like the last arcade version of 太鼓の達人 (of which I highly recommend the 3DS version) or Bemani. The best thing: Everything was only 50¥. Like in the old days when the big part of these nowadays retro machines were all new and exciting.
Shibuya Kaikan Monaco already closed its doors in August but it was today when I read about it. I used the opportunity to search for all the pictures I made back then and have to admit that I’ll miss this place on my next visit to Tokyo. Even if I only went to Kaikan Monaco three or four times, it’s always been a sentimental pleasure. But with its aging customer base and few youngsters coming to the place to experience retro games how they were meant to be played, it was only a matter of time till the arcade had to close its doors. Not to mention the fact that it has been located in the main street of Shibuya the center-gai shopping street. It was a run-down building but still located in one of the most expensive areas (for shops) in Tokyo.
R.I.P Shibuya Kaikan Monaco.
Who’s that nerd playing Time Crisis?